Apr. 13, 2016
Back to the Straits of Tiran – Eyal Zisser
The Six-Day War broke out in 1967 because of the Straits of Tiran. In May 1967, Egyptian President Nasser closed the straits to Israeli shipping. He hoped this would economically suffocate the Israeli city of Eilat just as it was becoming Israel’s gateway to Africa and the Far East. Egypt said it had the right to deny Israeli passage because it had sovereignty over the islands of Sanafir and Tiran. The two islands fell under Israeli control during the Six-Day War and were returned after the 1979 Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty.
Renewed Egyptian-Saudi cooperation is very much in line with Israel’s vested interests. The new partnership is necessary if there is to be a moderate axis of Sunni-Arab states to counter the radicalized forces in Egypt and Saudi Arabia. This cooperation is also an important counterweight to Iran, which Saudi Arabia considers a major threat.
Saudi Arabia essentially vowed to comply with the terms of the Egyptian peace treaty with Israel. That treaty mandates that these two islands remain demilitarized. The treaty also led to the creation of an international peacekeeping force to ensure free passage through the straits. The writer, Vice Rector at Tel Aviv University, is former director of its Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies.(Israel Hayom)
Israel: With Red Sea Islands Deal, Saudi Arabia Gave Written Assurances over Freedom of Passage in Tiran Straits – Gili Cohen
Israel’s freedom of passage in the Straits of Tiran following the transfer of the islands of Tiran and Sanafir from Egypt to Saudi Arabia was guaranteed in the deal, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon saidTuesday. A document handed to Israel ensures the commitment of Saudi Arabia, which doesn’t have formal agreements with Israel, to carry on with the principles reached by Israel and Egypt in their 1979 peace agreement. According to the accord, the Straits of Tiran and the Gulf of Aqaba are international waterways open to free sailing and flying. The two islands control entry to the Gulf of Aqaba and the Israeli port of Eilat.
“We reached an agreement between the four parties – the Saudis, the Egyptians, Israel and the United States – to transfer the responsibility for the islands, on condition that the Saudis step into the Egyptians’ shoes regarding the military appendix of the peace agreement,” Ya’alon said. He added that Israel does not object to the construction of an overland bridge at the site, and that the move was carried out with Israel’s consent. (Ha’aretz)